Month: September 2016

The Shining by Stephen King
The Shining by Stephen King

It took me a while, but I did it. I finally did it! I read “The Shining” by Stephen King. This is a massive book, and I wasn’t sold on it at first. In fact, it took me 40 chapters to finally start loving the way Stephen King has crafted this novel of horror. The book is somewhat different than the movie in a lot of ways, and you will definitely tell the difference by the time you move towards the mid-point of the novel. I didn’t mind that, I loved the way the narrative worked, but you have to let it bloat, because it truly works like a boiler or furnace, it takes a while to heat up.

Alcoholism The First Villain

At first, I didn’t think that this book was about a haunted hotel. In fact, a good portion of the book explains Jack Torrance’s drinking problem, his abuse of Danny, and his pressure on his wife. As the book goes forward you realize that he’s going through a hard detox as a caretaker to an old hotel. He is commissioned to be an off-season caretaker, and for the most part, he’s doing ok, until Danny starts to have problems, and that sends Jack and Wendy into a tailspin. As the novel tightens up, you get a lot of flashbacks, and content about Jack’s demise, and the bigger picture of alcoholism. Stephen King, in interviews, discussed that a lot of the elements were based on his battle with alcoholism, and it led to creating a very real to life character. Jack’s abuse scared me, as I have dealt with my own battles of abuse as a child. It’s much more magnified in the book versus the movie, that’s for sure.

The Shining Is Different

The shining here is used as a weapon, and is used as a mental element. There’s also a lurking ghost element as well. This is much different to the movie’s element, but it works well throughout. You also get a different ending, a different process, and much more in depth explanations of what Danny’s special power is and how it works. That’s a great thing, and that pushes the novel to all new heights in the latter parts of the book. I appreciates the attention to that detail, and while Danny is a scared kid at times, he pushes on towards the end, and I loved it. At 5 years old, this kid grows a pair of balls, great stuff.

All Hell Breaks Loose

It took me 40 chapters of “The Shining” by Stephen King to start seeing the horror. This is a slow burning book. A lot is explained leading up to the final ten or so chapters, and it’s well worth your investment. I appreciated the attention to the stillness, the bellowing of the hotel, the ghosts, and the madness of Jack Torrance and his drinking problem. All hell breaks loose towards the end, Wendy gets it, Danny gets it, but you don’t see Dick getting it. Unlike the movie, there is salvation, there is no maze, and there’s a lot of details that are missed from the book when hell breaks loose.

Star Rating For “The Shining” by Stephen King

It took me 2 weeks to read this. Longer than any other book I’ve read and reviewed for this blog. I will give “The Shining” by Stephen King 4 stars out of 5. I found it to be very worth my time at the end. I wanted to give up, but I kept going and was given a gift for it. I love the way things turned out, and I appreciated the elements of reality that Stephen King put into place. There’s a lot of nuance here, and it’s not necessarily the same that you would expect if you only saw the movie. The movie is great, no doubt, but this book really gives you closure, and so much more details as to the villain that Jack is, and how bad alcoholism, isolation, and abuse can become. I loved it.

You can buy “The Shining” by Stephen King by clicking here, and get a copy for as low as a buck or two.

Did you read “The Shining” by Stephen King? What did you think? Drop me a line below.

Book Reviews

American Ultra Blu Ray Cover
American Ultra Blu Ray Cover

I’ve seen a lot of movies, but nothing has been as terrible as the pairing of Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart. Now, their pairing in “Adventureland” wasn’t half bad, but this was an atrocious, piece of garbage movie. No seriously, “American Ultra” definitely let me down. A friend of mine told me to watch it, and that it would be good. But this Max Landis picture is actually one of the main reasons why I hate a lot of modern movies. But hey, maybe I’m wrong, let’s consider a few notes.

Jesse Eisenberg Is A Whining Mess

Eisenberg has yet to impress me. He’s a broke ass Michael Cera with longer hair. In fact, there’s nothing about his acting that is redeeming in my book. He plays a stoner here, and yet he doesn’t act like one. In fact, he acts like he is in every other movie he has been in, which isn’t a good thing. The story follows his character that is turned into a killing machine thanks to a rogue CIA agent. In fact, the government has been creating super soldiers and letting them live dormant. He’s paired with another agent, but he doesn’t know it, played by Kristen Stewart. Yes, Kristen Stewart is playing a CIA agent. Let that sink in. Just let it sink in.

A Boring Action Movie

This movie has nothing special to it. It’s just a display of tropes that you would expect from any action comedy. However, the comedy elements aren’t really there. Max Landis may have written some jokes in here, but the only saving grace to the notion is that John Leguizamo steals the show, even if he is cut short through the mid-section of the movie. Other than that, the movie bored me, and it bored thousands of people as it had 43 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Star Rating For “American Ultra”

“American Ultra” is not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. However, this is a boring actioner. I liked the visuals. The visual elements are great here, and Nima Nourizadeh does well in direction, but let’s face it, he doesn’t exactly have the best actors here. Eisenberg sucks, Stewart is boring, but the movie has some good points to it. The soundtrack works, Michael Bonvillain’s cinematography is great, and that’s about it. 96 minutes I won’t get back, but hey, that’s what happens these days, right? Oh well. I give this movie 2 out of 5 stars.

You can disagree with me and purchase “American Ultra” on blu ray by clicking here, or ignore it like I would.

Did you see “American Ultra”? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you thought.

Movie Reviews

Flight by Sherman Alexie Cover
Flight by Sherman Alexie Cover

“Flight” by Sherman Alexie is a book that I have been meaning to read for a long time. I finally sat down with it, and it was a lot harder to read than I thought. It’s not because it’s poorly written, it’s because the themes in the story resonate with me so well that I had to put things down and reflect. The greatest books in the world are books that involve massive emotional pulls from your heart forward. If a book can’t grab your heart, then you have to approach it academically alone. That’s not what this book does, and it’s not what Alexie does, he pulls your guts out in this book that really hits home for many of us that have struggled with life, depression, and more.

Introducing Zits

The story revolves around time traveling. Zits is the main character, he is an orphaned Native American teen and he discusses everything in first person. This first person narrative is gut wrenching, real, and definitely on par with some of the most iconic stories I remember. Not since “Mysterious Skin” have I felt so bad about life, and this book definitely takes me to dark places. Zits is a time traveling mass murderer, filled with rage, filled with depression, and is misunderstood throughout. He jumps through various bodies and focuses on talking to various people from different perspectives while reflecting on his own life and actions.

The Struggle of Belonging

Belonging to something is hard. I don’t belong. I am a loner. I’m a freelance writer and work from home. I’m always alone, and I struggle with my thoughts. Zits portrays a severe element that is in all of our humanity, and it’s in regards to relationships. He is being bounced around from home to home as an orphan. Foster parents are the worse, and the details of how he comes to the latest location is rough. He struggles to fit in, he struggles as a Native American, he’s been abused, and he wants to burn down the world because no one seems to accept him at all. The struggle of belonging hits me hard, because I have no major friends, no minor friends for that matter. I haven’t had a phone call in years, and I struggle with depression. I have for a long time. Sherman Alexie paints teenage angst with the mind of an adult, because as a teenager, sometimes it’s not about the girl that got away it’s about how society views us as different. If you have brown skin, you’re different. If you don’t want to adhere to norms, you’re different, and never belong. Zits doesn’t belong.

Building To The End

Zits jumps from time zones to individuals across various points in history. He’s a pilot one day, he’s an Indian hunter in another, he’s a police officer, and he is many things. He goes through the lives of various people in first person. He even sees his father, his mother, and details the alcoholism that grips him and his family. Alexie juxtaposes the realities of Native American culture so well and it’s fascinating. If you know anything about the struggles of Native Americans today, then you realize that Alexie is not just writing about Zits, he’s writing about a larger population that is struggling with alcoholism, defeated by American society, and struggling for new memory.

Star Rating For “Flight” by Sherman Alexie

“Flight” by Sherman Alexie gets 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a strong book with an incredible first person tale of time travel, depression, alcoholism, abuse, and more. It hurts to read sometimes. If you have experienced the degradation of abuse, if you have felt the sting of not belonging, and you struggle with depression, this book will hit you hard. It is hard to read if you are struggling with mental health, but there is a silver lining. The book is just something to behold, a narrative into fiction to tell you that you’re not alone. It’s a fascinating read, and Alexie knows how to really paint a first person narrative with soul. I’m impressed.

You can buy “Flight” by Sherman Alexie by clicking here, and ordering it from

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Book Reviews

Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz Paperback
Foxcatcher by Mark Schultz Paperback

I was fascinated by how fast I was able to pull through “Foxcatcher” by Mark Schultz. This is a book that was made into a documentary and full movie. I haven’t seen either options, but if they are anything like this book, holy crap, what a story. This is a book that came out in 2014 and has been one of the best stories that I’ve read about wrestling since “Vision Quest”. The book follows the story of Dave and Mark Schultz and the insanity of a billionaire. It dives into the reaches of what it means to be an athlete, what it’s like to lose a sibling, and how far you’ll go to win Olympic gold.

Money Cannot Buy Everything

John du Pont is portrayed as an eccentric, insane person. What you learn is that with money, you can do almost anything, including collecting people to do your bidding. His love and passion for wrestling made it so that he hired top athletes to wrestle for his team, so that he could watch them, be around them, and transform the sport. This happens in professional wrestling a great deal. “Money marks” are what they are called. They have money and they put on independent wrestling shows because they have money, hiring all of their favorite wrestlers. The big lesson, of course, as you always get with these stories is that money cannot buy everything. John du Pont desperately tries to buy things, and people. He does so with great reckless abandon, and succeeds in a lot of ways to push himself into the world of wrestling, but fails when he goes insane and kills one of his wrestlers, and supposed friends.

From Glory To Defeat To Glory

Mark Schultz paints a fabulous picture of what it is like to be an amateur wrestler. There’s a lot of sacrifice, little money, and focus on the bigger glories that seem to just narrowly miss a lot of Olympians. He talks honestly about cutting weight, wrestling, and the desire to succeed in sports. You get everything from triumphs to utter failure to depression and more. There’s a lot to Schultz and he is brutally honest, without cursing, without getting into sordid details, and perhaps it’s because there were none. Yes, Schultz is not perfect, but his dedication to wrestling seems to put on a religious element at times, and this comes before he converts to LDS.

Madness On Display

The best parts of “Foxcatcher” by Mark Schultz include the interactions that Mark has with John du Pont. At times you swear that du Pont was going to kill Mark, and not his brother. There is madness here, and something that comes with introversion, psychosis and more. It’s hard to tell where the roots of his madness are, but I can tell you that I haven’t read of a character in fiction that is quite as insane and yet composed as du Pont is. Mark paints him in an almost cartoon like manner, but it’s one of those things that define the adage of “truth is stranger than fiction”, and it’s found in the descriptions, mannerisms, and interactions with du Pont throughout this book.

Star Rating For “Foxcatcher” by Mark Schultz

I’ve read a lot of books this year, but out of all the things that I’ve read, “Foxcatcher” by Mark Schultz is my favorite thus far. 5 out of 5 all the way. Mark Schultz pulls backs the curtain of Olympic wrestling, college wrestling, and the obsession that people have with athletes of all different areas. I was impressed with the speed of the story, the length of the details, and the amazing story overall. This is a true American story, and one that you absolutely are going to enjoy, even if you’re not a fan of wrestling. I loved it.

You can buy “Foxcatcher” by Mark Schultz by clicking here and ordering it from

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Book Reviews

Raven Jim Jones and His People Book
Raven is one of my favorite books

People ask me what my favorite books are, and I have a hard time discussing it. The reason being is because I have read a LOT of books. It’s what I do. I read so much, it’s insane. In the past years I have battled depression, and when I was my most depressed I read one hell of a book that still stays with me today. That book is “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman. This is a book that one reviewer said was, “ok if you like thick books”. That made me mad. Yes, this is a 688-page book, and it is very detailed, a full account of what most people have forgotten about. Jim Jones and religious movements should get more attention, because it happens more often than people are willing to admit.

Extensive Research

This book is an interesting one, in terms of research. Time Reiterman does a lot of research and references so much it’s insane. The reason why this book is so thick is because the authors have worked very hard to read and reference documents, audio commentary, interviews, and so much more. If nothing else, you’re going to find that this book is absolutely detailed, leaving nothing behind. This includes the early life of Jim Jones, his education, his passions, and upbringing. There is no stone left unturned here, and that really got me hooked. Jones’ early life is so interesting, and things get even better over time.

Award Winning

When I was born, this book won the Thomas Thompson PEN Award for nonfiction. Rightfully so, this is a definitive book about a situation that most people have forgotten. I think that “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman is a stellar read, and one of the best books about religion that I’ve ever been able to consume. I couldn’t put this down. I forgot about my depression for a week or two as I plowed through this book and couldn’t put it down. I loved it.

The Gut Punch To The Soul

If you have a heart in your body, you are going to shed tears when you read this book. There is so much here to focus on. Jones isn’t evil at first glance. He goes out of his way to help people, and to make them feel included. This is the type of charisma that you don’t usually get from religious leaders. He actually represents Christianity better than most. He goes off the rails, no doubt, but it didn’t start that way. He had this notion that he wanted to help, and at all costs. But as power is given, he becomes corrupt, and it becomes insane. What hurts the most is the accounts of survivors, which absolutely changes everything. You weep for them in your heart, and your soul gets punched because this is a reality that is so hard to swallow. It’s fascinating, and it hurts, because churches abuse today and no one talks about it.

Star Rating For “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman

I’m giving this book a 5 out of 5. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, because it’s drenched in reality. This is a reality based book that has epic storytelling, research, and length. Nothing is left out from the story, and it feels like a documentary series that lasts several episodes. Jim Jones is an iconic character, and all too real. It’s sad that 900 people lost their lives, but you don’t get there right away. People think that it’s so easy to just walk away, but it’s not. This story gives you depth, it gives you ideas as to what it is like to feel conviction, stand in religion and get caught up in the wrong things. It’s powerful.

You can pick up “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman by clicking here, and ordering it from

Have you read “Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People” by Tim Reiterman? Drop me a line in the comments and let me know.  

Book Reviews

Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey
Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey Poster

“Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” came out in 1991, and I was one of the lucky idiots to go to the movie theater and watch it. There are a lot of different things that you can say about the movie, but there was one recurring theme that I found throughout this one, and it’s the fact that it would never go well today. In fact, if you were to promote and release a movie of this absurdity in 2016, the critics and fans would completely crap on it. Even in 1991, it didn’t exactly get a huge treatment of success, but you know what? Who cares, those that saw it, loved it, right? Well, I took a look back at this today, since my apartment complex left me stranded waiting for an inspection between the hours of 1 and 5 today.

The Future Is Perfect

Ah yes, a utopia is set up, but the future is not all well. The music of the Wyld Stallyns must be stopped, and so a quest is launched to stop Bill and Ted from playing the battle of the bands in San Dimas. That’s it. Rufus tries to stop De Nomolos but instead of going head to head, jumps on the phone booth from the first film and goes back in time. Two clones are sent to stop Bill and Ted, killing them off, only to have to meet up with “Death”. When they meet up with the grim reaper, they change his name to Melvin, and they win a chance to get their souls back. This of course brings upon some serious absurdity, including making robot clones, meeting up with troll like aliens called Station, and of course, the ridiculous nature of what you’d expect from a movie called “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”.

The Creative Side

At first glance, you’re going to hate this movie. If you haven’t seen in a long time, you are not going to immediately remember a lot of it. As the movie progresses you are either going to take the side of loving it or hating it. I found the script by Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon to be workable, and the cinematography of Oliver Wood to be outstanding. That’s right, there were some incredible shots during the “hell” dream sequences that were absolutely grand. In fact, those were the best parts of the movie. As Bill and Ted have to face off against their own versions of hell, the visuals change to a more “artistic” sequencing. Imagine the dreams from “Nightmare on Elm Street” without Freddy, and you get an idea as to how these play out.

A Killer Soundtrack

If you’re not a big fan of the movie, then you will at least love the soundtrack. The soundtrack features Slaughter, Winger, Kiss, Neverland, Richie Kotzen, Steve Vai, Faith No More, Megadeth, Primus, King’s X, and Love on Ice! That’s right, you get a ton of great rock music, including some tracks that are deep in the catalog of these bands. Of course, you may think that this butt rock selection isn’t for you, but hey, I’m a fan of the 1980s and 1990s rock scene, and these are classic examples of the stuff that was about to get pummeled by grunge. Just listen to the soundtrack, there’s a reason why All Music gave it a 3 out of 5.

Star Rating For “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”

It is no longer 1991, George Carlin is gone, and this movie is still around, right? Well, it’s not exactly on anyone’s top 10 list, but you know what? There’s a lot to offer in this sequel to the original movie. It’s 93 minutes long, it features some great humor, and it’s absolutely a throwback to the 1990s with all of the colorful clothing, the cars, and the southern California, surfer charm. I give this a 3 out of 5 overall, as it will not find appeal amidst everyone, it just won’t. A lot of former fans are going to hate “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” today, it’s that simple.

You can order “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” on DVD by clicking here, and see why I still think it holds up a bit.

Have you seen “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey” recently? Drop me a line in the comments below and let me know what your thoughts are on this excellent movie.

Movie Reviews

John Dies At The End Review
John Dies At The End Paperback

Well, I didn’t think that a comic horror novel would be the won genre that would be so difficult to get through. It took me 14 days to pull through “John Dies At The End” by David Wong. I had previously seen the movie, so I wanted to tackle the book before moving onto my next book. I finally put the finishing touches on this and am going to try and review this, but it’s going to be very difficult all things considered.

The Chaos of Horror

This book by David Wong is nothing short of insane. I say that as a point of frustration and a point of interest. The book is all over the place. The plot involves a first person narrative that dives into the most incredible story of absurd elements. We’re talking spiders, a hallucinogenic drug called soy sauce, a weird Jamaican guy, brains exploding, bugs crawling out of nostrils, organs talking, and everything you’d expect from a Cronenberg film thrown at you in literary form. The story does have a narrative but a lot of it is mired by the frenetic pacing, the back and forth conversation, and lack of focus. This is like reading the brain of an ADD diagnosed individual, chaos reigns throughout the book. There is true chaos here.

Horror Fueled Science Fiction

The story goes through the uncanny, the absurd, and complete horrors that you’d expect from other writers. I don’t know David Wong from anyone else, but after reading this book, I can truly say that he has something up his sleeve that others don’t. He has gone “balls to the wall” with the absurd. He has created a world that is beyond the imagination of a normal person and has brought in all influences, all the time. We’re talking influences that made “Carnosaur” a hit movie. There is time travel, there are celebrities, there are villains, the devil, hell, and so much more going on here. I can’t really put into words how frenetically paced this book is and how it creates insane horror structures. If you’re scared o of bugs, ghosts, blood, and just about all the horror tropes you’d expect from a slasher, then this book has it in spades.

Star Rating For “John Dies At The End” by David Wong

This book was hard to read because it wasn’t well written in my view. I say that as a bad writer. David Wong’s book is horrific in nature, but it also has a lot going for it. The science fiction and horror elements make this one hell of a read for those that love the genre. But I am not one of those people. I guess I am just not a big fan of the chaos that is created through the frenetic pace of this book. I know, I’ve repeated myself greatly in this review, but the book really had me wanting to quit many times. I give this book a 2 out of 5. It’s hard to read, but it’s got some gore and some violence, so perhaps “John Dies At The End” by David Wong isn’t as bad as I thought. The movie was good, violent, insane, and well it isn’t like the book, except it kind of is. You’ll get it if you decide to take this book on and watch the movie as well.

You can pick up “John Dies At The End” by David Wong and see what the hype is about by clicking here, and ordering it from

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Book Reviews

St. Vincent Movie Poster
St. Vincent Movie Poster

“St. Vincent” is one of those independent films that came out and you didn’t hear about it much. Some people saw it, but it wasn’t as high regarded as some “Ghostbusters” pundits would have you believe. Why do I say that? Well, because Bill Murray is in it, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why the new “Ghostbusters” got so much flack. This movie is one of those movies that has so much heart, your eyes will close shut from the tears, if you have a heart. I had to stand up and walk a bit, because there were moments in this movie that hit so hard, I couldn’t sit still.

The Hardship of Loss

You are introduced to several main characters, placed together by fate. Vincent, a curmudgeon is having a hard time coping with the death of his wife Sandy. A single parent and her son move in next door and the old man bonds with the kid. He’s a grumpy guy, and the kid softens his heart a little. This movie hits home the hard realities of losing a spouse to Alzheimer’s, having an addiction to drinking, gambling, and more as a coping mechanism. This big element is one of the main reasons why the movie starts to hit home, but it’s not until the second and third act that you realize something bigger is at work.

The Nerd

The nerd, the geek, the little guy is the secondary character that makes this so grand. Oliver, a 12-year-old little kid goes to a new school where things are difficult for him. He’s bullied. Vincent teaches him how to fight. He takes on the bully and things start to look up for him as he ends up befriending the bully. Vince and Oliver become quick friends, until Vincent gets the news that his wife (who is in a care facility) dies. At that point, Vincent pushes the kid away, and has to deal with the issues that come with loss yet again.

The Flawed Hero

There’s a juxtaposition of faith, love, and sadness that envelopes the movie. Without spoiling the plot, there’s heart to the script. Bill Murray plays depressed so well. His work here is so good with Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd filling out the roles. I also appreciated Naomi Watts playing a European sex worker. The flawed hero is on point here. There’s soul to it. You want to hate the guy at times, but in the end, you end up realizing that there’s humanity at play here, and that’s what makes this such a good, moving film.

Star Rating For “St. Vincent”

What I love about this movie is the simplicity of the visuals. The visuals are great. The camera movements, artistic shots, and centerpieces are great. The lighting, the sound, the music, and all of the different sequences fit together like a good puzzle. It’s this type of work that makes movies like “St. Vincent” such a shining example of good cinema. Directed by Theodore Melfi, and cinematography credits going to John Lindley, this is a well-produced, well edited, interesting slice of Americana. I loved it. Bill Murray does great here. He steals the show, and Jaeden Liberher does really well as Oliver. I give this movie a 4 out of 5. It’s only 102 minutes, but it has such a deep soul to it, that you can’t help but enjoy this one. It’s got heart, what can I say? Bill Murry shines in this dramatic comedic, story about life, loss, death, and the way that we see ourselves versus what others may see. I loved it. Not since “Rushmore” has Bill Murray done the sad thing so well.

You can buy “St. Vincent” on blu-ray by clicking here, and ordering it from

Did you see “St. Vincent”? If so, drop me a line and let me know what you think. 

Movie Reviews

Fresh Off The Boat by Eddie Huang
Fresh Off The Boat Paperback

I’ve managed to read a lot of books this year. However, Eddie Huang’s memoir had me stuck a lot of times. I didn’t want to finish it. I honestly was going to give up on it. However, I love the show and I wanted to see how this differed from the comedy on ABC. I was very surprised with how this all came about, especially when things got real in Huang’s life. “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” by Eddie Huang is not like the show. The show is comedic, family oriented, and this turns into a rated R showcase of bravado, hubris, and for lack of a better word, “thug” life. I kid you not.

Racist America

I loved how “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” by Eddie Huang wrote honestly about America. I loved it because I feel it every day. I’m a Mexican Immigrant, and I have assimilated in a lot of ways. The things that were told to Eddie growing up were told to me in many ways. People didn’t give me a chance, told me I was ugly, stupid, and much more. To this day, my real name gets me looks. In fact, when I went to get my driver’s license at the BMV this year in Indiana, the clerk asked my wife, “does he speak English”? Instead of asking me directly. Then turned to me and asked if I was even legal. Huang dealt with similar things, but instead of taking it like I do, he fought back. He literally punched people, knocked out others, and got arrested for various things.

I’m not a fighter, I guess. I deal with the Mexican side of racism in America, but often wondered how Asian people deal with it. Well, that’s what Huang explores in detail, and he juxtaposes it with his love for all things traditional food. He talks about food a lot, but this is not a book about food. It’s about cultural impacts, America, and family elements that are unique to his perspective.

A Thug Life

What caught me off guard about this book, and admittedly didn’t make me want to finish it was the focus on being a thug. Eddie Huang admits, he made the wrong choices. However, there’s a glorification of those things. He sells drugs, he fights, he beats up people, steals money, and does a lot of things that you would expect from gang life. However, his family is rich. He justifies this rebellion at one point by telling a story about his father beat them when they gained a mansion. He said that it was his house, and his money, not theirs. There’s another story where Huang laments getting a BMW as a present, meanwhile I was riding the bus all of my life. You see, I want to relate to Huang’s story, but every time I reach a point where I may think it’s something worthwhile for me, he reveals a “ghetto” identity that comes from his love of hip hop.

No One Reads Our Stories

What fascinates me is not so much that Huang’s story is unique. It’s not. What fascinates me is that most of the autobiographies that I have read this year have this element of gang violence. This chip on the shoulder of immigrant life. Whether rich or poor, there’s rebellion that leads to violence. I do not relate to that. I’m an immigrant, I grew up in poverty, and I didn’t do those things. Reading stories like “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” by Eddie Huang  makes me feel as though no one wants to hear or read my story. My story doesn’t have sex, drugs, and rebellion. It has a narrow path more often than not, and it’s quite boring. Is that why girls love the bad guy?

What I will relate to is the constant feelings of depression. Huang discusses feeling as though the world didn’t like him for what he looked like. He felt ugly, and the world treated him that way. He didn’t think he was so bad, but the world reminded him that he was fat, slow, and dumb. Even though he had accomplished so much, 3 degrees, law school, showed up on the Food Network, started a famous restaurant and more, he didn’t feel grand. Perhaps the biggest insult was when the Orlando newspaper wouldn’t hire him because his face. “That face?” “What’s wrong with my face?” “People aren’t going to want to talk to you that’s all.” I know the feeling. No one talks to me when they see my face. I’m ugly. Huang made it though, he had money. Give me money, and I’ll show you how many people talk to me.

Star Rating For “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” by Eddie Huang

I wanted to hate this book at times. But I get it. It’s Huang’s story. It’s a showcase of what you can do in America, when you live a life that’s thugged out, reckless, violent, and redeemed at the end. I hate that my story can’t or won’t be published because I didn’t punch someone with a lock, I didn’t sell drugs, and I didn’t do the wrong things. My story is bland. My immigrant story is reserved for an audience of none. Huang’s apparently is worth money. Heck, it must be nice. Ok, that all sounds like I’m jealous, and as a writer, I am. But as a reader, human being, and all around lonely person, I give this a 4 out of 5. I liked it. I hated it at first, but I realize that it’s a slice of Asian American life. Even though I don’t agree with some of the things, it’s a learning experience that has obviously allowed Huang to reach others. It’s a good book, despite my lackluster words. If you like the show, read this book, it’s a stark contrast, that’s for sure. Plus, the focus on food is great. I loved that at times, but it’s a bit disjointed. The beef noodle soup recipe was glorious, perhaps the best part of this book.

I’ll leave you with this, since Huang would appreciate it, “You’d love to hear the story how the thugs live in worry..” yep, congrats on the bestseller, people love it because of that line, Nas was right. I’m out.

You can purchase “Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir” by Eddie Huang by clicking here, and getting it from

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Book Reviews

Hypercaffium Spazzinate Download
Descendents 2016 LP

There was a time when I was told that real punk wasn’t melodic. It was crass, it was loud, it didn’t make sense, and it was not mainstream. I never bought into those rules. I knew that there was an organized chaos that comes with punk rock, and if there ever was a band that exemplified that, it was Descendents. These guys put on a showcase of punk rock anthems that were melodic, fast, bass and drum driven, and were not muffled. The lyrics were on display with easy to follow along rhetoric, and you never heard the guys scream or growl. With the release of Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”, the band once again proves that they defy the logic of traditional punk rock rules, and throw down 21 tracks (deluxe edition) of pure pop punk.

Punk Never Lost Pop Credentials

For those that are going throw stones, you cannot tell me that Descendents don’t play a version of punk that is distinctly pop. Sure it’s not bubblegum and it’s not going to be on par with some of the 2000 era Blink 182 tracks, but then again, “Victim of Me” is being played on radio a great deal. In fact, there’s a lot of songs on this record in particular that are perfect for radio, and I’ve even heard a ton of tracks on Sirius XM so guess what? They are pop. Punk doesn’t need to go pop, because there’s bands that can do both punk and pop and still maintain an edge.

Milo Is Old

For some, the release of Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” sparks that age old question of whether or not it’s best to die in obscurity or burn out and fade away. The band plays it safe on the tracks, but then again, every punk rock band has a niche and then just plays it to death. People hate change. Look at what happened to Green Day when they put out “Warning”, heck, look at the stones thrown when they put out “Nimrod” and it wasn’t as heavy as “Insomniac” or as catchy as “Dookie”. Descendents don’t just put on a display of what they do best, they do it with style. There’s a lot of cool tracks here including my personal favorite, “Shameless Halo”.

Star Rating For Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”

Do you like Descendents? Do you like punk rock? Do you already have their back catalog? Then you are going to want to pick up Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate”. If you’re not a fan, or you aren’t sure about punk as a genre, then this is still a safe bet. If you buy the deluxe edition, you get 21 songs of melodic, punk rock, with a lot of gusto and bravado. These songs are easy on the ears, and made to be listened to with a friend. This is punk rock with good production, melody, and without pretense. If you’re a fan of the band, The Vandals, Guttermouth, and others from the 1980s and 19990s Epitaph Records explosion, then you will love this record. I give it a 4 out of 5.

You can buy Descendents “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” by clicking here, and download or get the physical release from

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Record Reviews